Proactive Life Plan for Birds


Did you know that some birds can live to be over 75 years of age? Not all breeds have such a long life expectancy, but your veterinarian can help you give your bird every chance to have a long, happy life with you! One of the most important things you can do is to have your bird examined by a veterinarian every six months and at the very first sign of illness. Birds in the wild that show indications of being sick become vulnerable prey for larger animals; therefore they have developed the ability to hide their illnesses for as long as possible. Unfortunately for their domesticated descendents, this can be fatal because it can be difficult for them to recover if subtle symptoms go unnoticed. If you own a bird it is crucial to learn your bird's behavior and to recognize any signs of illness such as:

1. Decreased appetite

2. Decreases or stops singing or talking

3. Sleeps more than usual

4. Drooped wings

5. Changes in stool or urates

A physical exam by a skilled veterinarian with experience in avian medicine may detect Vitamin A deficiency, mites, respiratory illness, bone/joint abnormalities, sinus/eye infections, and feather disorders. Your new bird's first examination should include:

1. A comprehensive physical examination
2. Nutritional counseling
3. Husbandry counseling
4. Grooming
5. A fecal analysis including a gram stain
If you have a large bird (Parrots, Macaws, African Greys, Caiques, Cockatoos, and others that weigh more than 100 grams) your veterinarian may also recommend bloodwork such as:   

1. DNA sexing
2. Polyoma Virus
3. Psitaccine beak and feather disease
4. Psittacosis
5. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Every bird should have a physical exam and a fecal analysis every six months. Bloodwork should be done annually if recommended. At some point in your bird's lifetime, your veterinarian may recommend radiographs, which are helpful in detecting pneumonia, heart disease, liver disease, and egg binding.

Diagnostic Tests Offered for Birds:

Our hospital is one of the few facilities in the area equipped to diagnose and treat illness in birds but, more importantly, to help prevent disease. These are some of the diagnostic tests we can do, and what they tell our veterinarians about your bird:

1. Fecal Gram Stain: This test checks for abnormal bacteria or yeast in the feces. If this test comes back abnormal, we may culture the feces in order to choose the most effective treatment plan.
2. Fecal flotation/parasite analysis: This test will check for the presence of parasites or protozoa in the intestinal tract of birds, including roundworms, coccidia, and giardia.
3. Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test checks for anemia, infection, or blood parasites.
4. Serum Chemistry: This is a blood test that checks out individual organs, such as the liver, kidney, and pancreas, in birds.
5. Psittacosis: This is a blood sample that is sent to the laboratory to check for psittacosis (chlamydiosis). This disease can be transmitted to people and is known as "parrot fever."
6. Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): This blood test is recommended for all Cockatoos. This disease causes severe beak and feather malformations.
7. Radiographs (X-rays): Many diseases can be detected by full body x-rays including: pneumonia, abscesses, liver disease, fungal infection, malformed joints/bones, and egg binding are just a few, which can be life-threatening in birds.